Sheffield Steelers facing off against old friend Anthony DeLuca in Challenge Cup clash with Manchester Storm
To do that, they are going to have to overcome one very familiar face when they step out at Planet Ice Altrincham to take on Manchester Storm, hoping to cement their place at the top of the Group C standings.
Earlier this week, former Steelers’ forward Anthony DeLuca signed for the Storm and, as tends to happen in such circumstances, finds himself up against his old club in his first game.
DeLuca was an energetic force when with the Steelers between 2018-19, scoring 91 points, including 54 goals, in 118 games, helping the team end their long wait to lift the Challenge Cup in the Covid-shortened 2019-20 season.
His time at the club was brought to an end in November last season when he was suspended after cannabis was discovered in a routinely-taken urine sample taking following a game against Cardiff two months earlier.
He headed back to North America and found game time later on in the season with two teams in the ECHL.
Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips is looking forward to locking horns with DeLuca, believing the smaller ice in Altrincham will suit the 27-year-old Canadian-born forward’s game.
“He’s a great pick-up for Manchester,” said Phillips. “He’s so offensively talented there are not many people who can shoot the puck like him.
“He can literally score from anywhere on the ice, it is that accurate, the way he shoots and how he knows when to release the puck.
“In Manchester, in that small building, when he was with us he had a lot of success there because he’d just shoot the puck from anywhere - he can pick out them holes.
“With DeLucs, when he’s confident and in tune, he’s unstoppable and so strong on the puck, you’ve really got to time and space away from him.”
Steelers stay on the road all weekend, looking to bounce back from Thursday night’s 4-3 overtime league defeat to leaders Guildford Flames when they head to Dundee Stars tomorrow night.
In NIHL National, Sheffield Steeldogs play host to Telford Tigers, looking to extend their winning streak to four games after last Sunday’s 5-2 win over league newcomers Bristol Pitbulls.
Greg Wood’s team then hit the road tomorrow to take on Peterborough Phantoms.
Hull Seahawks go in search of their first win of the season when they host Raiders IHC before visiting Bees IHC tomorrow night.
Raiders remain in Yorkshire for the weekend when they visit Leeds Knights tomorrow.